Monday, January 26, 2009

Metric Monday: Measuring Awareness, Attitudes, and Usage

In a recent survey of non profit leaders and marketers by the American Marketing Association and Lipman Hearne, respondents of small, medium, and large organizations said that building awareness was their top priority. In today’s edition of Metric Monday I am going to suggest a few ways of measuring your organization’s activities toward achieving this goal.

Typically referred to as AAU (Awareness, Attitudes, and Usage), this metric is most useful when results are set against some form of comparator – that is data from a prior term (e.g. year-over-year), different markets (e.g. geographic or demographic), or with the competition. An AAU metric by itself is meaningless until you have a pivot point from which to demonstrate movement. In that light, several data sets are essential to identify valid trends and movement in AAU.

In a nutshell, AAU looks at:

Awareness: the percentage of your target audience (customers or potential customers) who recognize your organization or its brand, either aided or unaided. It also measures what knowledge the target audience has about your organization’s products and services. So, not only do you look to see if they know about you, you measure what about you they know.

Attitudes: this is a combination of what your target audience believes and how strongly they believe it. Measurements cover the target audiences’ perceptions of quality, effectiveness, and value as they relate to your organization, and also cover intention to purchase or become involved with your cause.

Usage: this is simply the target audiences’ self-reported behavior as it relates to your organization.

So, how do you get this type of information? Here are two ideas.
Caveat: make sure you specifically identify the target audience you’re wanting to measure. I can’t emphasize the need for specificity in this step. Saying you want to measure awareness amongst the general population will not give you actionable data as your organization likely doesn’t have the marketing budget of General Electric or Coke. Think specifically about the finite group you want to study.

  1. Use surveys conducted by research organizations who know how to reach your target audience. These might be online, intercept, mail, or telephone surveys that ask a series of questions. USE THE SAME SET OF QUESTIONS over time so you have data points to measure against. Yes, you can administer a survey yourself if you’re measuring your internal constituents, but I’d still suggest you employ a true researcher to help with the set up, collection, and analysis. They’re the experts at this type of work – you’re likely not.

  2. Scan discussion boards and social sites for first-hand comments and reviews. You can gather a wealth of knowledge by being a quiet participant in user forums and sites that are talking about you. Resist the urge to defend and comment. Just listen and regularly monitor the tone and information shared.

Here are a few scenarios of data streams you might get and what to do:

  • High awareness, high attitude, low usage – I know about you but I do not think highly of you and will not engage with you. Things to do: these people may not know of ways to engage with your organization. Maybe you’re communications are unclear as to volunteer opportunities. Maybe your opportunities for engagement are not what this audience wants. Go to them and find out how they want to engage you and create those opportunities.

  • High awareness, low attitude, low usage – I know about you but don’t think highly of you and will not engage with you. Things to do: these people should be left alone and you should focus your energies on higher yield opportunities.

  • Low awareness, low attitude, low usage – basically I don’t know you exist and do not engage with you. Things to do: an awareness campaign might migrate members of this group into another category. You’ll need to evaluate the cost of what it takes to break through the noise in the market space as you compete for attention. Make sure you have a plan in place to engage or disengage these people once you do.

Bottom Line: For many non profits or cause-related organization marketers, the idea is that if more people are aware of our organization then there will be more supporters to our cause and more users of our services. They equate awareness with moving the organization forward and increased success. My friend Katya Andresen, author of Robin Hood Marketing, recently quoted her mentor Bill Novelli as saying, “If your goal in life is to raise awareness, you might as well be shoveling pamphlets out of airplanes. Be in the business of creating action, not awareness.” Ultimately, while AAU may be a sexy metric to follow, it is a poor substitute for measuring your ability to do good.

If your organization is measuring AAU, please share how and what you're learning. If you have other ways you've gathered data for this metric, what are they?

-- David Kinard, PCM

1 comment: said...

What a great, thoughtful, thorough post. Thank you for the review on metrics - and for highlighting that awareness is not necessarily the road to action.